“With one in five children aged 4-5 and one in three children aged 10-11 now overweight or clinically obese AND tooth decay being the most common reason for children in England being admitted to hospital, Action on Sugar is urging parents to give children water or whole fruit instead of juice,” says a press release from a group of specialists concerned with sugar and its effects on health.

Supermarket juice cartons

This has been reported by the media under headlines including:

  • Call to banish fruit juice from recommended five a day
  • ‘Healthy’ fruit juices have dangerous levels of sugar, study shows
  • Some children’s juice drinks have more sugar than Coke
  • Is fruit juice bad for you? Forget the breakfast OJ – many juices contain so much sugar they are a health hazard

Now you may be reading this thinking I am about to disagree with these headlines, but actually for the type of juice they are talking about I agree COMPLETELY.

See, for me the big issue is the lack of distinction between freshly extracted live juices and the highly processed and cooked juices referred to in the press release and related articles.

The press release highlights how 25% of “children’s juices” can contain at least six teaspoons of sugars (25g) per 200ml- the maximum ADULT daily intake of sugars as suggested in draft guidelines.

Even though there is absolutely no need to add sugar to a product made with fruit, a quarter of those surveyed also contained added sugar or glucose-fructose syrup (the crack cocaine of sugars).

“These drinks are marketed to children and parents as if they are ‘healthy’: this has to stop”

Chairman of Action on Sugar, Professor Graham MacGregor of the Wolfson Institute, Queen Mary University of London says, “It is a complete scandal that these drinks are marketed to children and parents as if they are ‘healthy’: this has to stop.  We need to stop Britain’s childhood obesity epidemic spiralling out of control.”

I agree 100% with Professor McGregor, but alas part of this statement from Kawther Hashem, Nutritionist of Action on Sugar is a little more ambiguous.

Kawther Hashem says: “It is highly concerning that many parents are still buying fruit juices and juice drinks for their children thinking they are choosing healthy products; children should be given as little juice as possible. What is more concerning are the products with added sugar and glucose-fructose syrup. We call on all manufacturers to stop adding more sugars to already sweet juices, particularly in children’s products.”

Should children be “given as little juice as possible”?

It depends of the type of juice. Should we restrict our children from drinking freshly extracted vegetable and fruit juices? Personally I think not, especially when you consider studies like one from the National Heart and Lung Institute, published in the European Respiratory Journal, that showed children who drink plenty of apple juice may be less likely to develop asthma symptoms.

On the other hand, should we limit the amount of highly processed “juice” with added sugars (and in some cases added chemicals)? ABSOLUTELY.

You can learn more about the differences between fresh and bottled juices by reading Common Juicing Mistake: Thinking Bottled Juices Are The Same As Freshly Made


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